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480. Food System for the Global Environment and the Health of 10 Billion People

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Today, one out of every ten people in the world suffers from hunger, and diseases associated with obesity and overweight are becoming more prevalent not only in high-income countries but also in low and middle-income countries due to the spread of diets rich in animal products and fats. The food system that supports these dietary habits lacks agricultural diversity and is considered to be the biggest cause of biodiversity loss, and is also involved in climate change through emissions equivalent to one third of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers attribute the problems in the food system to the fact that the market price of food does not reflect the costs to health and the environment. Food that is produced without consideration for health and environmental sustainability is often discarded or wasted because it is too cheap, while sustainable and healthy food is not affordable for many people. If left unaddressed, the problems in our food system can cause not only environmental destruction, but also social injustice, such as unpaid proper labor, food security, and ill-health, which can have unintended negative effects on current and future generations.

We are running out of time to support a world population approaching 10 billion by 2050. In recent years, a growing global awareness of the need to rethink the food system aims to promote behavioral change and innovation toward healthier diets for the planet and humanity by making visible the health, environmental, and economic costs of food that are not reflected in market prices.

A public symposium "Towards a Sustainable Food System”, jointly organized by the Foundation of Agricultural Sciences in Japan and Agricultural Academy of Japan, will be held online on March 12, 2022. In this symposium, JIRCAS will historically review the background of the food system's cost to the environment and human health since the mid-20th century, intertwining it with the development of international agricultural research, and then look forward to the role of innovation in building a food system that guarantees the global environment and the health of 10 billion people.

Hendriks S et al. The True Cost and True Price of Food. A paper from the Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit. Draft, 1 June 2021. https://sc-fss2021.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/UNFSS_true_cost_of_fo…

The Rockefeller Foundation. True Cost of Food Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System. June 2021. https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/True-C…;

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)